Original Research

Use and Effectiveness of the Teach-Back Method in Patient Education and Health Outcomes

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Although this review did not limit the publication years of its articles, no pre-2011 articles were found. The teach-back method has been used to measure patients’ postintervention understanding and to educate HCPs on ways to improve patient communication. As this review did not include studies of teach-back as an outcome measurement or studies of training and adaptation of teach-back in HCP or nurse education, other study results may have a bearing on the current findings. Teach-back has been used to close communication gaps between patients and HCPs.

All articles included in this review used the teach-back method with other educational or organizational interventions. The outcomes found in this review may be associated with those interventions and not with teach-back itself. Data reported here have not demonstrated a definite association between teach-back and the measured outcomes; therefore, caution should be exercised when drawing conclusions based on these data. In addition, most of the studies considered in this review were cohort or case–control studies; only 5 RCTs were included. Other confounding factors, including patient health literacy levels, HCP types, HCP competencies in use of teach-back, and type and duration of interventions used before teach-back, may have contributed to this review’s findings.


Findings of this systematic review support use of the teach-back method as effective in reinforcing or confirming patient education. As none of the included studies reported harmful outcomes, the teach-back method poses little risk with respect to increasing patients’ understanding of their education. The findings emphasize the importance of conducting more studies to try to understand the inconsistent results of knowledge retention and determine ways to preserve the long-term effects of teach-back.


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